By Kaylee Hammond
As many of you know, coffee is a universal language across the globe. On the west coast of the United States, we often think of Starbucks as the local coffee shop, while on the east coast, Dunkin Donuts is considered a local spot. In Greece, Starbucks are very rare and there are absolutely no Dunkin Donuts’ franchises located in Greece. For me, coffee is my way of life, and I suppose, my addiction. I love having a nice cup of coffee at any time of the day, but I always have to have one to start off my morning.
My first experience of Greek coffee culture was during breakfast of our first full day in Athens. It was roughly 6 a.m. and we were all jetlagged and in desperate need of caffeine. Fortunately, our hotel offered an espresso machine that made cappuccinos, regular black coffee, and an espresso shot that contained flavorful Greek coffee beans. That morning was my very first time enjoying black coffee with nothing added to it, and that was the moment I realized coffee in Greece was not the Starbucks I am used. Luckily, Greek coffee is rich and strong, just how I like it.
I continued my education in Greek coffee at the Acropolis Museum Cafe. The building was modern glass, concrete and marble, and also spacious, with views of the surrounding greenery and the Acropolis itself. This dramatic space called for an afternoon cup of coffee to drink out on the white marble coated balcony. I ordered a “double Greek coffee” for 2.90 Euros which is equivalent to $3.20 U.S. dollars. On average, a Starbucks drink can range from $4 up to $8, which I now understand is overpriced for a cup of coffee.
Greece is known for their coffee and going out to drink a petite shot of espresso is very common, especially in the afternoon, whereas, in San Diego, we go out to get lattes and macchiatos. Greek coffee is not bitter like most coffee and is full of bold flavors which is why I surprisingly can handle black coffee in Greece.
This afternoon treat was a quick and refreshing snack, and I got the strong coffee that I need during the middle of the day. Along with the coffee at the Acropolis Museum, the coffee shop called Everest has a variety of coffees and they have locations in Athens as well as Chios. I was able to try their “iced freddo cappuccino” which is a very strong coffee with a thick layer of foam on top. The espresso they use in Greece is smooth and never bitter, which makes Greek coffee so delicious and addicting! What is so unique to Greece and their coffee, is that everywhere you go, there is always some sort of coffee on the menu, in grocery stores, at mini kiosks, every sit down restaurant, at juice bars, in hotel cafes, at pizza shops, and even at bars! It is almost unusual to go to a place that does not sell coffee because everyone here drinks it. Greece’s coffee culture is more than just espresso beans, it is about sustainability and bringing the community together. The coffee in Greece has this special purpose to the locals because it brings everyone together and it keeps Greece alive. If there was one thing I took away from the coffee in Greece, it is to never question its strength.